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The Married Gambler: How To Bet On HGTV Shows With Your Spouse

The Married Gambler: How To Bet On HGTV Shows With Your Spouse article feature image

Courtesy of @PropertyBrother

  • HGTV shows are actually a pretty good way for bettors to gamble with their significant others.
  • Here's a guide to betting on popular shows such as "Property Brothers", "Love It or List It" and "House Hunters."

When it comes to gambling, single folks have it easy. They’re free to indulge their every wagering whim.

It’s Thursday night. They’re dying to bet some MACtion. They skip right over that rerun of “Rizzoli & Isles.” ZERO hesitation.

But for married gamblers such as myself it’s a whole different ballgame. Sure, we’re monitoring our bankrolls, but we’re also managing precious marital capital. And believe me, either currency can vanish with one wrong move.

But I’m not complaining! A good gambling life partner is critical to maintain order in the family home. Without her steady hand, within a week my son and I would just be eating maraschino cherries over the sink, watching a Nuggets preseason game because I promised him a waffle cone if the under hit. We’d be more animals than men.

This bleak vision of my future is what motivates me to maintain a happy marriage. And the name of the game is compromise. If she proposes some HGTV instead of a thrilling Sun Belt showdown, I’m happy to oblige.

And luckily for savvy betrothed degenerates everywhere, this attitude helped me stumble upon the gambler’s secret to a happy marriage: betting your spouse on HGTV shows.

One of the most popular cable channels in history, HGTV has followed the playbook of the best professional gamblers for more than two decades: identify a trend, build a system and fully commit.

And while some may have rolled their eyes at HGTV’s stream of mindless decor fantasy, I had an awakening instead. Halfway through a “Property Brothers” episode I saw the network for what it truly was: an undiscovered trove of pure gambling potential.

Awash in this revelation, I proposed a wager. Intrigued, my wife took the bet. A couple of tasteful window treatments and boxes of wine later, we had feverishly bet on five different HGTV shows and turned our sectional into a microfiber Westgate SuperBook. It’s just like our embroidered throw pillow says: “The couple that makes high-stakes HGTV plays together, stays together.”

In terms of stakes, I’ll leave that up to you. Your bedroom betting is your business. But if you can’t come up with enticing stakes to offer someone with whom you’ve entered into a binding lifetime contract, I daresay gambling might not be for you.

So without further ado, here’s The Married Gambler’s Guide to HGTV Betting.

Name of the Show: Flip or Flop

Summarize the show in one tweet or less: A charmless talking hair helmet and his partner Jawline Barbie buy gross SoCal houses, remodel them and sell them on their way to a messy public divorce.

Best part of the show: Unless you’re living someplace currently on fire, most episodes showcase a home in far worse shape than your own.

Worst part of the show: Listening to distilled Orange County stereotypes Tarek and Christina squabble over backsplash pricing.

How Can I Gamble On This? The dramatic arc of every episode revolves around whether the couple can turn a profit on their latest flip. Ignoring the show’s many dreary spin-offs in Las Vegas, Nashville and elsewhere, the flagship Flip or Flop has about 100 episodes. About one in every three episodes ends with a sale netting $90,000 or more in profit, but about one in 10 episodes ends with the property still unsold. So let’s keep it simple.

How much profit will they make on the flip?

  • Over $90,000 OR unsold (+115)
  • Under $90,000 (-130)

And if your marriage is anything like mine, +115 is as close to a 50/50 chance of being proven right as you’ll ever get.

If you want to spice things up, change up when you make your bet. You can do it after the open house near the very end of the show, or in the middle during the remodel.

But if you really want to sweat it out, choose sides right after their offer is accepted. This is just minutes into the show, when the house is at its worst. Bet the over if you crave that “Three units on Buffalo+2.5” feeling.

Fun Side Bets: Halfway through every episode, Tarek and Christina’s contractor always delivers bad news regarding an unforeseen repair. Will it cost over/under $3,500 to fix?

These houses often have ramshackle additions out back. Does it have the proper permitting? Yes pays 20-1.

Insider tips:

1. Like the most popular HGTV fare, this show delivers zippy, formulaic episodes perfect for binge-watching as well as wagering. With a skilled DVR trigger finger you can watch as many as nine episodes in the time it’d take to slog through Monday Night Football.

2. Even though the couple recently divorced, they’ve remained business partners for the sake of the show — and, theoretically, their children.

3. In what is surely a great marital metaphor, only one of their six flips has crossed the $90,000 profit threshold since the divorce. So if you see “New” next to the episode title, hammer the under.

4. Choosing marble for a flip is like paying Timofey Mozgov $64 million: no shot of a positive ROI. They don’t call quartz “the Kemba Walker of countertops” for nothing.

Name of the Show: Love It or List It

The show summarized in one tweet: Couples enlist the help of Mary Poppins’ aging-but-sexy mother Hilary to renovate their houses, while sarcastic Canadian realtor David seduces them with other options. When the dust settles, couples must choose between staying and selling.

Best part of the show: David’s face when a potential house is dismissed because of ugly wallpaper.

Worst part of the show: Your empathetic response when Hilary tells a couple: “Unfortunately, you need a new furnace.”

How Can I Gamble On This? This one is easy! The show’s title presents the either/or gambling proposition of every episode.

Couple will…

  • List It +135
  • Love It -150

Fun Side Bets: Couples frequently increase David’s budget for a new home but rarely pony up for Hilary’s remodel.

Will the couple increase their new home budget? Yes is -200

Will the couple increase their remodel budget? Yes pays +400

David eyerolls + sarcastic remarks: Over/under 4.5

Insider tips:

1. Couples are more likely to “love it” if they have already started a family, based on two mortal enemies of the gambling community: complicated emotions and children.

2. This helps explain why “Love It” cashes at almost a 60% clip since the show started in 2008.

3. If you’re not sure if an episode is taking place in Canada or the good ol’ USA, look for contractor Eric Eremita, who resembles a more trustworthy UFC boss Dana White. He appears only in American episodes.

Name of the Show: Fixer Upper

The show summarized in one tweet: Clean-livin’ goofball and his telegenic wife help people find and transform their dream homes through savvy home buying, tasteful design and folksy Texas charm.

Best part of the show: Getting tricked into thinking Waco is a stylish and idyllic place to live.

Worst part of the show: Seeing power couple Chip & Joanna Gaines host the most popular HGTV show of all time, run a bevy of diverse business ventures, operate a farm and raise a gaggle of children while you struggle to scoop ice cream out of a carton.

How Can I Gamble On This? This show presents a few gambling obstacles. First, the show is now entirely in reruns, having ended its five-year stint of HGTV domination this spring. So be leery; your Better Half may have already memorized the episode.

Second, the show is not what you’d call “an edge-of-your-seat thrill ride.” There’s a shabby house. There’s a dramatic renovation. There’s a final product that looks like all the covers of my mother’s Southern Living magazines.

But ultimately, nearly all episodes start with nervous homebuyers selecting from three clunky cribs in need of a transformation. You and your significant other each pick one. If neither of you picks the right house, you roll the pot over to the next episode … double or nothing.

But if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, there are two alternatives at about 50-50 odds.
1) Will the buyers choose the most expensive house? (Yes hits in 37 of 79 episodes.)
2) Will the buyers choose a ranch-style house? (Yes hits in 38 of 79 episodes.)

Fun Side Bets: The real fun with this show is the side bet action. And if you married a Fixer Upper fan like I did, I’ve crunched the numbers to give you the house advantage.

Will Joanna say the word “shiplap”? Yes pays even money.

Fans’ biggest inside joke is that Joanna is obsessed with the rustic chic look of shiplap and uses it every chance she gets. I can see why! It feels like every other word out of her mouth is “shiplap.”

The truth? This design element appears in only 31 episodes. But bait the trap and offer even money every time. If there’s one thing marriage teaches you, it’s how to play the long game.

Will woodworker Clint Harp make them a table? Yes +200

Clint is another element that feels more frequent than it is. He’s listed in only 30 episodes, but his lovable awkwardness and expert work leave a big impression, particularly on the ladies.

I’d also offer this exotic bet: Is Clint secretly in love with Joanna? Yes pays -10000.

Will the Gaines children visit the house? No pays +300

I’m not good at guesstimating, but Chip and Joanna have between 30 and 35 kids. Fixer fans think they pop by (often in adorable fashion) every episode, but they swing over in only 51 episodes. Take the no every time.

Will Chip and Joanna need to call about an unforeseen problem? Even money
Will Chip engage in some kind of horseplay? No pays +300
Will Chip call Joanna “JoJo”? No pays +200

Insider tips:

1. In the high-stakes countertop game, concrete is the new marble, player.

2. Listen, just try whitewashing the brick. You’ll be amazed.

3. Nobody on the show, and very few fans of the show, want to hear your Baylor jokes.

4. If you love seeing giant, hi-res printouts of dilapidated houses cut in half, put on wheels and slowly pulled apart to reveal a much nicer house… boy is this is a good show for you!

Name of the Show: House Hunters

The show summarized in one tweet: Real estate agents help unattractive, suspiciously underemployed people choose between three homes, all of which are better than yours. Watched more than 25 million times a month, this longest-running HGTV show was accurately described to me as “real estate porn.”

Best part of the show: Savoring how every episode adheres to the show’s formula with the same exquisite, joyless precision of the Texas A&M marching band.

Worst part of the show: Figuring out how this dental hygienist and her taxidermist husband can afford a $950,000 beachfront bungalow.

How Can I Gamble On This? Another easy one. In every episode the agent walks the buyers through three houses, and they always pick one.

But take your time: every episode is like a three-horse Kentucky Derby. You’d be amazed how often the clear favorite loses.

Fun Side Bets:
Will they go over their original budget? Yes is +300.

Will either of the home buyers hold a legitimate job? Yes pays +200, but it must be a career even your grandmother would understand. Lawyer? Yes. Work-from-home doula? No.

Will the episode feature any scene with a half-finished alcoholic beverage? No pays +300.

Insider tips:

1. Whether you’re buying a house or explaining Greg Maddux’s success, it always boils down to three things: Location. Location. Location.

2. Even the morbidly obese appreciate the value of being within walking distance of stuff.

3. When house hunting, unless you’re married to them or they’re buying the house for you, never let them tag along. Their opinions are useless.

4. If an episode has unbearable participants, just skip to the end. But that’s coming from me, a guy so impatient I only rub off the lotto scratcher barcode and hand it back to the clerk.

Name of the Show: Property Brothers

The show summarized in one tweet: In a show more Canadian than maple-stained denim, identical twin brothers help nervous homebuyers choose a new house, then remodel it into a dream home.

Best part of the show: When you realize one brother designs and leads a massive renovation project … while the other brother basically walks buyers through a couple foyers saying, “How about this one?”

Worst part of the show: Brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott started out in comedy improv. They’re now a realtor and a contractor. That’s not a coincidence.

How Can I Gamble On This? This show presents a couple of opportunities. In the front half of the show, realtor Drew showcases two houses to an anxious couple. At around the 24-minute mark of every episode the couple hashes it out and decides on one to purchase and remodel. If you and your spouse disagree on which one they’ll go with, it’s an easy House #1 vs. House #2 bet.

OR you can go this route: Will the couple go over their initial budget? This happens for all sorts of reasons, and typically buyers fall into the “hardline” or “flexible” categories from the start. But if you love rooting for asbestos, then live your fantasy and bet the over.

Fun Side Bets: Shortly after the renovations begin, Jonathan always discovers an unforeseen issue. Mirroring the real home-ownership experience, you get to play the spectator version of “What’s wrong with this house?”

Each of you chooses one of these groups.
Group A: Roof, electrical/wiring, pest damage and anything involving the phrase “load-bearing”
Group B: Plumbing, water damage, windows, foundation and non-roof exterior issues

Will a homebuyer drop one of these Canadian pronunciation classics: out as “oot,” house as “hoose,” or organization as “organ-eye-zation?” Yes pays +200

You can also bet on a marital power struggle. Jonathan will present the couple with a few this-or-that design decisions. The couple often disagrees over each one before one ultimately wins. If each of you selects one member of the homebuying couple, you can experience the thrill of marital-argumentation-by-proxy!

Insider tips:

1. Some Canadians actually own and maintain swimming pools for some reason.

2. When visiting a renovation, making homebuyers wear a hard hat and goggles really gives them that lost, overwhelmed look of a kindergartener at a nuclear power plant’s “Take Your Child to Work Day.”

3. If the homebuyers have kids, the Property Brothers will attempt to play with them at some point. Skipping over this is a great reason to DVR the show.

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